Archive for August, 2012

When Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984, he asked his famous question “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” and he answered it at the same time in a campaign commercial titled “It is Morning Again in America”. Therein, he listed all the ways the country was better off than it had been four years earlier when he defeated Jimmy Carter.

As Thomas Sowell points out, we should not wait for any “Morning in America” ads from Obama. Indeed, “Mourning in America” might be more appropriate.

Since his presidency has no track record that would win any votes, we will see an election campaign focused on distracting innuendoes instead of hard facts. Much like I expected months ago when I wrote that style will be more important than substance.

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Thomas Sowell discusses the differences between economic and political decision making:

Scarcity is the first lesson of economics. The first lesson of politics is to forget the first lesson of economics.

The best costs more. You can always pay less and get less. But only by going through the government you are likely to pay more and get less.

You can always find someone who is highly atypical, put him on the tube, interview him, and represent his case as if it is typical of the whole country. There is great deal of that going on.

What they are saying is that if everyone has an opportunity to go to private schools, that’s unequal. But if only those with their own money have that right, then it is equal. It’s fascinating reasoning.

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While listing to a discussion between Peter Robinson and Thomas Sowell, I found this arresting statement:

Although intellectuals pay a lot of attention to inequality among different groups, seldom has this attention been directed toward how the less economically successful might improve themselves by availing themselves of the culture of others around them.

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Some time ago I wrote about a 10-minute video in which Milton Friedman outlined the role of government in a free society. Fortunately, I have now found the whole speech which is about one hour:

The first thing you have to do is to emphasize the very different meanings that “free” has. The first is freedom in the sense of the absence of coercion. The second is free in the sense of free lunch, in the sense of absence of costs. There are few more important sources of confusion about the proper role of government in a our society than the confusion between the two very different meanings of the word “free”.

All of us are too willing to see government expand in areas that benefit us. What we object to is paying for when it benefits somebody else.

 

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mainz

It has been quite a while since my last post. The reason is that I spent the last couple of days in Mainz, Germany. A very pleasant city, I have to say:

Mainz – Rhine riverside

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Here we have a wonderful discussion of the pros and cons of America’s war on drugs with Milton Friedman and Pete Wilson. The debate was recorded in December 2000, after three decades of fighting against drugs.

As it is we have caused tens of thousands of deaths in Colombia and other Latin American countries. I think that prohibition of drugs is the most immoral program that the United States has ever engaged in. It has destroyed civil rights at home and it has destroyed nations abroad.

The only way you can enforce it is through informers. That is the way in which the Soviet Union tried to enforce similar laws which tried to prevent people from saying things.

What is the difference between saying to somebody that government may tell you what you can take in your mouth but the government may not tell what you may say out of your mouth?

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Some weeks ago Daniel J. Mitchell, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, presented a brilliant cartoon on his blog, summarizing the logic (or lack thereof) of Keynesian economics:

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We all know about President Obama’s rhetorical skills. Thus it is great to see them exposed to a cold bath of logic by Thomas Sowell:

The road to hell is paved with Ivy League degrees.

Here is a man talking about five different industries, in none of which he has the slightest experience. But because he has these degrees from the places you mentioned and people have told him how clever he is, he now thinks that he can do this.

Obama has an absolute talent for saying things that make no sense but not only sound plausible but inspiring.

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european presumptuousness

Just a few days ago Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, told the Greek people that they have to “deliver, deliver, deliver”:

This sounded arrogant and was offensive to many listeners. But in order to emphasize his own presumptuousness, Barroso moved on today and suggested to raise EU’s budget by a stunning 6.8 percent for the next year. This is nothing but outrageous given that the budget for the Commission is already 5.8 billion Euro, and 129 billion to cover all 45’000 EU officials. Let alone his personal salary of 24’422 Euro. Per month.

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